Diversity for diversity’s sake: how to better service your female clients

3 min read

Published in Risk Adviser 12 April 2017.

Diversity is important not just to give everyone a fair go – although that is a good thing – but because it’s important to understand our community better so we can service it better.

Diversity is our best chance to understand, by reflecting on who we are, what our clients want. Diversity includes gender, culture, age and a range of socio-economic groups – among others, but my focus today is on women.

It can be easy for people to inadvertently ignore experiences outside their own and advisers might not focus on situations outside their experience, such as being a single woman and, therefore may miss the opportunity to really drive value for clients.

There are implications with insurance for single people, health issues more common for me and different ones for women, and different timings for family planning and different goals for long-term financial wellbeing.

A few years ago, after talking to my financial planner about my insurance needs I was rather blasé about how much super I would need as a single woman. I figured life insurance was unnecessary as I had no dependents.

With regard to living insurance, I thought that as being on my own my cost of living wouldn’t be too high. She asked me if I was adequately funded in the event of a traumatic event or catastrophic event. Did I have a catastrophe recovery plan?

My current fall back, as she understood, was returning to live with my parents. When she spelled this out this somewhat terrifying scenario made me rethink my insurances. I didn’t see the option as being one which would be a comfortable long-term solution. My insurances were thus reviewed and reset.

She also suggested as I was getting older and I may not always be without dependents that letting life insurance slide might not be the best idea.

It was a good understanding of hers about the type of person I am and what would be a good lifestyle decision for me that made her question my initial thoughts on insurance.

It was then that the insurance medicals started. I hate needles and I hate the uncertainties in waiting for the results of medical tests. She was very understanding and virtually hand-held me through the process. I understand that this process can be equally frustrating from the adviser and client point of view. Somehow I think the insurance industry needs to come up with better ways, more seamless ways of changing insurance and insurers.

Other areas of focus for females and financial planning are:

  • Fertility planning – how to afford it, how to plan for the costs when it works.
  • Trauma cases – how do you afford for the care you might need if you are on your own, and sometimes if you’re not
  • Having less super and needing to make up for it despite a lower appetite for risk
  • Divorced women may also be in debt from property splits – how can you make the best of your property settlement.
  • Some may be retiring with mortgages – which is also more likely to be a result of divorce – so planning around property splits and investments is essential.

Many good advisers will cover all the above scenarios – but some might not think of it as it is outside their own experiences.

Much of the difficulty can arise in the conversations which need to be held to ascertain the above scenarios. By having advisers of different ages, genders, cultures and socio-economic groups can help drive the conversations that result in the best outcomes for all your clients and potential clients.

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